The Story Behind The Trololo Song (It's Not What You Think) - Anita's Notebook


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    A picture of Anita Wirawan in Seattle, Washington.

    My name is Anita Wirawan and I love stories :).
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*The Story Behind The Trololo Song (It’s Not What You Think)*

Surely you’ve seen the epically amazing Trololo video by now, but did you ever wonder what the song was actually about?

Or maybe it didn’t even seem like the song could be about anything considering the lyrics are, well, there aren’t any really other than lololo and lalala type stuff.

But there is a story behind the song and here it is as explained by Edward Khil, the Trololo man himself:

“John on a mustang is riding across a prairie to his love Mary who is waiting for him and knitting him a woolen sock.”

There was one big problem though: the song was written in Soviet Russia and so a story about an American cowboy riding free on the range had no chance of making it past the censors back then.

It had to be changed. John and Mary were dropped and the officially sanctioned story of the song became “A man is merry he walks and sings for himself. He is glad and everyone around him is glad.” Talk about typical Soviet era censorship lol! We are all very happy and everyone is glad…lololo.

But the spirit of the song lived on in between the lines and the sound of the song was kept in the American style as much as was possible. You can hear a bit of this specifically in the ‘Aiieeee’ part that sounds a lot like it came from a cowboy song.

Another interesting Trololo related story is that Edward Khil had no clue that he was super famous on the internet until his grandson came home one day humming the Trololo song:

“I asked him what that was about. He answered that I am not keeping up to date and that in the internet all America is singing it while I am sleeping at home…”

I watched a video of an interview with him, turns out he’s a pretty awesome guy overall and even took all the Trololo parodies in stride. I can only hope to be that layed back about things when I’m seventy-five years old.



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  1. Julie says:

    Lala lalala….I am happy therefor…everyone should be glad. :)

    Great story Sis. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.


  2. krudler says:

    Arkady Ostrovsky’s son, Mikhail, gives another version of the vocalise story:

    Nobody banned its lyrics, but my father just composed the music when his relations with Lev Oshanin deteriorated. The latter told him that the lyrics are more important and that a composer is nothing without a lyricist. So Dad told him during the argument, “Well, I don’t need your verses at all, I’ll manage without them.”
    —Mikhail Ostrovsky, Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russian)

    **I see you did the same thing I did – research the source. LOL! We’re writers, aren’t we? But you didn’t include this quote which I thought was interesting. I can’t remember now where I found it, but there was yet another version of this story that said that someone (Khil?) didn’t think the lyrics were any good and it was too late to write any new ones, so he just “winged it”.

    I also watched the interviews and found him charming. The best was when he sang the song via Skype to some guy – again – can’t remember the precise circumstances. That was cool. People really did embrace it, didn’t they?

    • Anita says:


      Interesting to hear that there is another account of the song’s origins! So which one is right, or are they both partially right or what I wonder.

      re: ‘winged it’ The Wikipedia entry talks about the winging it story:

      But the Soviet Artistic Council censored almost all of the song text due to its unsoviet nature. Cowboy and farm were especially criticized. The word cowboy brought to mind associations with saloons and showdowns, and the word farm was controversial because all private, incollective forms of agriculture were prohibited in the Soviet Union.

      The Commission’s verdict was to rewrite the entire song. This created several problems. First, it would take a significant amount of time to rewrite the text and have it approved. There was another problem: other singers were pretending to be the first performers of the song.

      With no time to spare, Khil suggested singing the song without words, instead vocalizing tro-lo-lo and tra-la-la. This seemed like a good idea as there was nothing controversial or punishable for such a performance.

      Soviet Artistic Council…probably was every Russian artist’s worst nightmare back then.

  3. TheIkarians says:

    I´ve seen a lot of parodies about Trollolo and his song, but never ( incredible never) knew the background Story of this, To me theres no need of lyrics or an explanation of these, even if it was meant to be about a cowboy & girl´s song, I feel it as some melody that comes out when you are happily returning to home or bringing happiness on your shoulders.
    It happens to any of us, from time to time, just chanting a melody, no particular word in it but in the way to home fine and peaceful. :)
    I like the story Anita! Thanks for Posting!

    • Anita says:

      Thanks Nairim, glad you liked the post. The best part of this song is that you don’t have to work hard to memorize the lyrics :D.

  4. Wladston says:

    I’m trying to find the original song lyrics. If you have any info, please post here: (there is a bounty if you can find the lyrics!)

  5. foom rim says:

    this didn’t help at all